The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a contract worth approximately £250 million to progress the design and development of Tempest, the UKs Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
Image courtesy BAE Systems
The contract, signed by BAE Systems, officially marks the start of the programme’s concept and assessment phase.
Continued funding of Tempest underlines the UK Government’s confidence in the progress and maturity of the programme, which is set to deliver the military, industrial and economic requirements of the national combat air strategy.
The programme is being delivered by Team Tempest – combining the expertise of the UK MoD, BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce. Working with international partners, the team is leading progress towards a UK-led internationally collaborative Future Combat Air System which will ensure the Royal Air Force and its allies retain world-leading, independent military capability.
The concept and assessment phase contract will see the partners develop a range of digital concepts, embedding new tools and techniques to design, evaluate and shape the final design and capability requirements of Tempest.
Announcing the contract during a visit to BAE Systems’ Warton site in Lancashire, Ben Wallace, UK Secretary of State for Defence, said: "Today marks a momentous step in the next phase of our Future Combat Air System, with a multi-million pound investment that draws on the knowledge and skills of our UK industry experts. Boosting our already world-leading air industry, the contract will sustain thousands of jobs across the UK and will ensure that the UK remains at the top table when it comes to combat air."
Now officially underway, the Concept and Assessment phase will:
Define and begin to design the future combat air system
Mature technologies across the system
Invest in the skilled workforce
Secure digital and physical infrastructure and tools that underpin cutting-edge digital engineering, data and software-based systems
Enable major programme choices by 2024.
UK Director of Future Combat Air, Richard Berthon said: “This project is hugely important in ensuring the UK and its partners have the skills and technology we need to give us the battle-winning edge for the future.
“Developing the system allows us to drive a revolution in digital development and harness the power of open systems architecture. We are looking forward to working together with UK industry and international partners to create and deliver a system which will keep us safe for decades to come."
Chris Boardman, Group Managing Director of BAE Systems’ Air Sector, said: "Working with our industry partners and the Ministry of Defence, we are on track to deliver an ambitious programme for the UK, which will provide a highly advanced and sophisticated air defence capability, capable of countering future threats and safeguarding our national security and defence. The funding announced today marks a critical next step for the programme and, with our partners, we will work together to define the technical and capability requirements and develop the concept which will bring Tempest to life.
"Tempest offers an exciting opportunity for the next generation of talent to develop rewarding careers, contributing to important work in support of the defence of our nation. The coming years represent one of the most exciting periods in the history of our industry and, as a team, we have a chance to be part of something genuinely historic, transforming the way we develop and deliver."
Phil Townley, Director Future Programmes, Rolls-Royce Defence said: “We continue to deliver an ambitious future combat air programme for the UK and the further funding announced today marks a critical step forward in that. Working together with our Team Tempest partners we will continue to develop the cutting edge technology to bring Tempest to life.
"Across Rolls-Royce we are proud to be at the heart of this transformative endeavour. Tempest represents an exciting period of history across the Defence industry, particularly for our people and the next generation of talent who will be at the forefront of this programme for decades to come.”
Tempest will pioneer cutting-edge technologies, including those assisted by Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and autonomous systems to meet the capability requirements of future conflicts and be operational in the mid-2030s.
The design and production of Tempest demands a radically different approach and the Team Tempest partners are working with companies in their supply chain to drive digital transformation, embedding a digital enterprise through the ecosystem; embracing an agile approach that will deliver a combination of advanced technologies, efficiency, speed of production and lower costs.
Recent research conducted by PwC underlines how the Tempest programme is expected to deliver significant and wide ranging benefits to all regions of the UK, stimulating vital investment, productivity, skills and innovation. The programme will make an estimated £26.2bn contribution to the UK economy, create high productivity employment - 78% higher than the UK national average – and will support an average of 21,000 jobs a year.
The programme is able to stimulate R&D in regions most in need and generate wider economic benefits for these areas, with 70% of the programme’s value to be generated in the North West, South West and East of England. This means the Tempest programme is well placed to support the UK Government’s levelling up priorities and contribute to the UK’s economic recovery and prosperity in the decades ahead.